California OSHA laws & HR compliance analysis

California OSHA: What you need to know

The federal Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSH Act) is “preemptive”; that is, it overrides state laws and regulations in the areas it covers. Individual states, however, may devise and administer their own laws and regulations with federal approval and only if the applicable state requirements are as stringent as the corresponding federal standards.
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California has its own workplace safety and health regulatory program, the California Occupational Safety and Health Act (Cal/OSH Act), and has received federal authorization to enforce it (CA Lab. Code Sec. 6300et seq.; CA Code Regs. Tit. 8 Sec. 330et seq.).
The Cal/OSH Act applies to both private and public sector workplaces. While California has adopted the federal safety and health standards, it has added many provisions that are stricter than federal rules, including bloodborne pathogens, electrical safety, emergency preparedness, first aid, hazard communication, lockout/tagout, machine guarding, material handling (including forklifts), permissible exposure limits (PELs) for air contaminants, personal protective equipment, process safety, recordkeeping, and requirements for safety plans and safety committees. The state injury and illness prevention program adds requirements that do not exist under federal rules. Penalties for violating Cal/OSH Act provisions are much stricter than federal penalties. The California Department of Industrial Relations/Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA) administers the Cal/OSH Act.
A private sector employer is defined as every person who has another person "in service," such as a private business or nonprofit organization that employs one or more workers (CA ...

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